Japan plans to sign an agreement with Vietnam to allow it to export defense equipment and technology to the country, part of a move to strengthen defense capabilities of Indo-Pacific nations to counter Chinese maritime advances, the Nikkei newspaper reported Wednesday.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday told his ruling Liberal Democratic Party that he will visit Vietnam and Indonesia next week, the newspaper said, adding he was expected to sign the Vietnam deal during the trip.

Japan ended a decadeslong ban on overseas arms sales in 2014 to help beef up the nation's military and lower the unit cost of home-built military equipment but has so far struggled to strike export deals for finished products.

Japan's only export deal for a finished product has been one signed with the Philippines in August for the export of a warning and control radar system developed by Mitsubishi Electric, the Nikkei said.

Tokyo is also negotiating with Indonesia and Thailand to sign an agreement regarding defense equipment transfers as it seeks to draw on Southeast Asian demand, it added.

Suga's visit to the two countries will be his first overseas trip since taking office last month following Shinzo Abe's resignation due to ill health.

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